merkel cells

Summary

Summary: Modified epidermal cells located in the stratum basale. They are found mostly in areas where sensory perception is acute, such as the fingertips. Merkel cells are closely associated with an expanded terminal bulb of an afferent myelinated nerve fiber. Do not confuse with Merkel's corpuscle which is a combination of a neuron and an epidermal cell.

Top Publications

  1. Boulais N, Misery L. Merkel cells. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2007;57:147-65 pubmed
    b>Merkel cells are post-mitotic cells scattered throughout the epidermis of vertebrates...
  2. Nunzi M, Pisarek A, Mugnaini E. Merkel cells, corpuscular nerve endings and free nerve endings in the mouse palatine mucosa express three subtypes of vesicular glutamate transporters. J Neurocytol. 2004;33:359-76 pubmed
    ..The data suggest that glutamate release, or co-release, is likely to represent an important functional aspect of palatine Merkel cells and neighboring corpuscular and free nerve endings.
  3. Rickelt S, Moll I, Franke W. Intercellular adhering junctions with an asymmetric molecular composition: desmosomes connecting Merkel cells and keratinocytes. Cell Tissue Res. 2011;346:65-77 pubmed publisher
    b>Merkel cells (MCs) are special neuroendocrine epithelial cells that occur as individual cells or as cell groups within the confinements of a major epithelium formed and dominated by other epithelial cells...
  4. Moll I, Roessler M, Brandner J, Eispert A, Houdek P, Moll R. Human Merkel cells--aspects of cell biology, distribution and functions. Eur J Cell Biol. 2005;84:259-71 pubmed
    Human Merkel cells were first described by Friedrich S. Merkel in 1875 and named "Tastzellen" (touch cells) assuming a sensory touch function within the skin...
  5. Goh S, Lindau C, Tiveljung Lindell A, Allander T. Merkel cell polyomavirus in respiratory tract secretions. Emerg Infect Dis. 2009;15:489-91 pubmed publisher
    ..MCPyV was more commonly found in adults than in children. Presence in the upper respiratory tract may be a general property of human PyVs. ..
  6. Foulongne V, Kluger N, Dereure O, Mercier G, Moles J, Guillot B, et al. Merkel cell polyomavirus in cutaneous swabs. Emerg Infect Dis. 2010;16:685-7 pubmed publisher
    ..MCPyV was detected in at least 1 sample from virtually all participants. Viral loads were higher in samples from patients with MCC...
  7. Righi A, Betts C, Marchetti C, Marucci G, Montebugnoli L, Prati C, et al. Merkel cells in the oral mucosa. Int J Surg Pathol. 2006;14:206-11 pubmed
    ..from 96 patients were evaluated immunohistochemically with an anti-cytokeratin 20 (CK 20) anti-body to evidence Merkel cells (MC)...
  8. Fagan B, Cahusac P. Evidence for glutamate receptor mediated transmission at mechanoreceptors in the skin. Neuroreport. 2001;12:341-7 pubmed
    The functional role of Merkel cells in the mechanosensitivity of the slowly adapting type I responses has been a controversial issue for many years...
  9. Szeder V, Grim M, Halata Z, Sieber Blum M. Neural crest origin of mammalian Merkel cells. Dev Biol. 2003;253:258-63 pubmed
    Here, we provide evidence for the neural crest origin of mammalian Merkel cells. Together with nerve terminals, Merkel cells form slowly adapting cutaneous mechanoreceptors that transduce steady indentation in hairy and glabrous skin...

More Information

Publications62

  1. Cahusac P, Mavulati S. Non-competitive metabotropic glutamate 1 receptor antagonists block activity of slowly adapting type I mechanoreceptor units in the rat sinus hair follicle. Neuroscience. 2009;163:933-41 pubmed publisher
    ..The selective interference of type I units may provide further evidence that Merkel cells are mechanotransducers. Finally such compounds may deliver insights or treatments for Merkel cell carcinoma.
  2. Press D, Mutlu S, Güçlü B. Evidence of fast serotonin transmission in frog slowly adapting type 1 responses. Somatosens Mot Res. 2010;27:174-85 pubmed publisher
    ..antagonist, completely abolished the responsiveness to force, suggesting that serotonin is released from Merkel cells as a result of mechanical stimulation, and activated 5-HT3 receptors on the neurite...
  3. Aimetti M, Romano F, Cricenti L, Perotto S, Gotti S, Panzica G, et al. Merkel cells and permanent disesthesia in the oral mucosa after soft tissue grafts. J Cell Physiol. 2010;224:205-9 pubmed publisher
    ..Results showed that there is a close link among the number of Merkel cells and the alteration of sensations...
  4. Piskorowski R, Haeberle H, Panditrao M, Lumpkin E. Voltage-activated ion channels and Ca(2+)-induced Ca (2+) release shape Ca (2+) signaling in Merkel cells. Pflugers Arch. 2008;457:197-209 pubmed publisher
    ..governing these processes, we analyzed voltage-activated ion channels and Ca(2+) signaling in purified Merkel cells. Merkel cells in the intact skin were specifically labeled by antibodies against voltage-activated Ca(2+) ..
  5. Kassem A, Sch pflin A, Diaz C, Weyers W, Stickeler E, Werner M, et al. Frequent detection of Merkel cell polyomavirus in human Merkel cell carcinomas and identification of a unique deletion in the VP1 gene. Cancer Res. 2008;68:5009-13 pubmed publisher
    ..The presence of MCPyV in the majority of MCC tissue specimens in our study strongly underlines a possible role for MCPyV as an etiologic agent in the carcinogenesis of MCC...
  6. Hitchcock I, Genever P, Cahusac P. Essential components for a glutamatergic synapse between Merkel cell and nerve terminal in rats. Neurosci Lett. 2004;362:196-9 pubmed
    The exact role of Merkel cells and their possible involvement in mechanosensation is unclear...
  7. Van Keymeulen A, Mascre G, Youseff K, Harel I, Michaux C, De Geest N, et al. Epidermal progenitors give rise to Merkel cells during embryonic development and adult homeostasis. J Cell Biol. 2009;187:91-100 pubmed publisher
    b>Merkel cells (MCs) are located in the touch-sensitive area of the epidermis and mediate mechanotransduction in the skin...
  8. Fukuda J, Ishimine H, Masaki Y. Long-term staining of live Merkel cells with FM dyes. Cell Tissue Res. 2003;311:325-32 pubmed
    Live Merkel cells in the skin and hair follicles are known to incorporate a fluorescence dye, quinacrine, which has been utilized to identify and dissect the cells for experiments...
  9. Bhatia K, Goedert J, Modali R, Preiss L, Ayers L. Merkel cell carcinoma subgroups by Merkel cell polyomavirus DNA relative abundance and oncogene expression. Int J Cancer. 2010;126:2240-6 pubmed publisher
    ..08). These data suggest that MCC may arise through different oncogenic pathways, including ones independent of pRb and MCPyV. ..
  10. Kinkelin I, Stucky C, Koltzenburg M. Postnatal loss of Merkel cells, but not of slowly adapting mechanoreceptors in mice lacking the neurotrophin receptor p75. Eur J Neurosci. 1999;11:3963-9 pubmed
    b>Merkel cells are specialized epidermal cells which are abundantly found in touch-sensitive areas and which are innervated by slowly adapting mechanosensitive afferent fibres with large myelinated (Abeta) axons...
  11. Haeberle H, Fujiwara M, Chuang J, Medina M, Panditrao M, Bechstedt S, et al. Molecular profiling reveals synaptic release machinery in Merkel cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004;101:14503-8 pubmed
    ..The role of epidermal Merkel cells within these complexes is disputed...
  12. Wellnitz S, Lesniak D, Gerling G, Lumpkin E. The regularity of sustained firing reveals two populations of slowly adapting touch receptors in mouse hairy skin. J Neurophysiol. 2010;103:3378-88 pubmed publisher
    ..developed an epidermis-up ex vivo skin-nerve chamber to record action potentials from afferents while imaging Merkel cells in intact receptive fields...
  13. Touze A, Gaitan J, Maruani A, Le Bidre E, Doussinaud A, Clavel C, et al. Merkel cell polyomavirus strains in patients with merkel cell carcinoma. Emerg Infect Dis. 2009;15:960-2 pubmed publisher
    ..All frozen MCC specimens and 45% of formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded specimens, but none of the non-MCC neuroendocrine carcinomas specimens, had MCPyV. Strains from France and the United States were similar...
  14. Johnson K. The roles and functions of cutaneous mechanoreceptors. Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2001;11:455-61 pubmed
    ..Furthermore, the receptors in each of those systems seem to be specialized for their assigned perceptual function. ..
  15. Shimohira Yamasaki M, Toda S, Narisawa Y, Sugihara H. Merkel cell-nerve cell interaction undergoes formation of a synapse-like structure in a primary culture. Cell Struct Funct. 2006;31:39-45 pubmed
    b>Merkel cells have been assumed to guide nerve fibers to the skin. However, there has been little in vitro evidence that supports this hypothesis, because there is no suitable established culture system of Merkel cells...
  16. Eispert A, Fuchs F, Brandner J, Houdek P, Wladykowski E, Moll I. Evidence for distinct populations of human Merkel cells. Histochem Cell Biol. 2009;132:83-93 pubmed publisher
    b>Merkel cells (MCs) are neuroendocrine cells of unknown origin located in the skin. They are identified at electron microscopic level by electron dense granules, at light microscopic level by the presence of cytokeratins 8, 18, 19 and 20...
  17. Maricich S, Wellnitz S, Nelson A, Lesniak D, Gerling G, Lumpkin E, et al. Merkel cells are essential for light-touch responses. Science. 2009;324:1580-2 pubmed publisher
    ..Merkel cell-neurite complexes are touch receptors composed of sensory afferents and Merkel cells. The role that Merkel cells play in light-touch responses has been the center of controversy for over 100 years...
  18. Laga A, Lai C, Zhan Q, Huang S, Velazquez E, Yang Q, et al. Expression of the embryonic stem cell transcription factor SOX2 in human skin: relevance to melanocyte and merkel cell biology. Am J Pathol. 2010;176:903-13 pubmed publisher
    ..In aggregate, these findings suggest that SOX2 is a novel biomarker for subpopulations of normal skin cells that reside in established stem cell niches and that might relate to Merkel cell and melanocyte ontogeny and tumorigenesis. ..
  19. Kwun H, Guastafierro A, Shuda M, Meinke G, Bohm A, Moore P, et al. The minimum replication origin of merkel cell polyomavirus has a unique large T-antigen loading architecture and requires small T-antigen expression for optimal replication. J Virol. 2009;83:12118-28 pubmed publisher
    ..The MCV origin provides a novel model for eukaryotic replication from a defined DNA element and illustrates the selective pressure within tumors to abrogate independent MCV replication. ..
  20. Bardot E, Valdes V, Zhang J, Perdigoto C, Nicolis S, Hearn S, et al. Polycomb subunits Ezh1 and Ezh2 regulate the Merkel cell differentiation program in skin stem cells. EMBO J. 2013;32:1990-2000 pubmed publisher
    ..in fate determination in epidermal progenitor cells, leading to an increase in the number of lineage-committed Merkel cells, a specialized subtype of skin cells involved in mechanotransduction...
  21. Krimm R, Davis B, Woodbury C, Albers K. NT3 expressed in skin causes enhancement of SA1 sensory neurons that leads to postnatal enhancement of Merkel cells. J Comp Neurol. 2004;471:352-60 pubmed
    ..These data indicate that NT3 is not a survival factor for MCs and that the NT3-mediated enhancement of MC number is indirect and neurally dependent. ..
  22. Ikeda R, Cha M, Ling J, Jia Z, Coyle D, Gu J. Merkel cells transduce and encode tactile stimuli to drive A?-afferent impulses. Cell. 2014;157:664-75 pubmed publisher
    ..Merkel discs are tactile end organs consisting of Merkel cells and A?-afferent nerve endings and are localized in fingertips, whisker hair follicles, and other touch-..
  23. Lumpkin E, Collisson T, Parab P, Omer Abdalla A, Haeberle H, Chen P, et al. Math1-driven GFP expression in the developing nervous system of transgenic mice. Gene Expr Patterns. 2003;3:389-95 pubmed
    ..granule-cell progenitors in the developing cerebellum, (3). Merkel cells in the skin, and (4). hair cells in the developing vestibular and auditory systems...
  24. Sastre Garau X, Peter M, Avril M, Laude H, Couturier J, Rozenberg F, et al. Merkel cell carcinoma of the skin: pathological and molecular evidence for a causative role of MCV in oncogenesis. J Pathol. 2009;218:48-56 pubmed publisher
    ..This information will help the development of novel approaches for the assessment and therapy of MCC and biologically related tumours...
  25. Lucarz A, Brand G. Current considerations about Merkel cells. Eur J Cell Biol. 2007;86:243-51 pubmed
    Since the discovery of Merkel cells by Friedrich S. Merkel in 1875, knowledge of their structure has increased with the progression of new technologies such as electron and laser microscopy, and immunohistochemical techniques...
  26. Maricich S, Morrison K, Mathes E, Brewer B. Rodents rely on Merkel cells for texture discrimination tasks. J Neurosci. 2012;32:3296-300 pubmed publisher
    ..We genetically engineered mice that lack Merkel cells (Maricich et al., 2009; Morrison et al...
  27. Senok S, Baumann K. Functional evidence for calcium-induced calcium release in isolated rat vibrissal Merkel cell mechanoreceptors. J Physiol. 1997;500 ( Pt 1):29-37 pubmed
    ..Taken with previous findings on the role of Merkel cells, it is likely that CICR is occurring in the Merkel cells.
  28. Pantulu N, Pallasch C, Kurz A, Kassem A, Frenzel L, Sodenkamp S, et al. Detection of a novel truncating Merkel cell polyomavirus large T antigen deletion in chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells. Blood. 2010;116:5280-4 pubmed publisher
    ..The detection of MCPyV, including LTAg deletions and LTAg expression in CLL cells argues for a potential role of MCPyV in a significant subset of CLL cases. ..
  29. Morrison K, Miesegaes G, Lumpkin E, Maricich S. Mammalian Merkel cells are descended from the epidermal lineage. Dev Biol. 2009;336:76-83 pubmed publisher
    b>Merkel cells are specialized cells in the skin that are important for proper neural encoding of light touch stimuli. Conflicting evidence suggests that these cells are lineally descended from either the skin or the neural crest...
  30. Frei R, Mötzing S, Kinkelin I, Schachner M, Koltzenburg M, Martini R. Loss of distal axons and sensory Merkel cells and features indicative of muscle denervation in hindlimbs of P0-deficient mice. J Neurosci. 1999;19:6058-67 pubmed
    ..Immunolabeling of foot pads revealed a corresponding loss of Merkel cells by 75%, suggesting that survival of these cells is dependent on the presence or maintenance of their ..
  31. Cahusac P, Senok S. Metabotropic glutamate receptor antagonists selectively enhance responses of slowly adapting type I mechanoreceptors. Synapse. 2006;59:235-42 pubmed
    There is evidence that glutamate may participate as a transmitter at the junction between Merkel cells and the nerve terminals of slowly adapting type I (St I) units...
  32. Werling A, Doerflinger Y, Brandner J, Fuchs F, Becker J, Schrama D, et al. Homo- and heterotypic cell-cell contacts in Merkel cells and Merkel cell carcinomas: heterogeneity and indications for cadherin switching. Histopathology. 2011;58:286-303 pubmed publisher
    ..changes in cell adhesion proteins, the aim of this study was to examine homo- and heterotypic cell contacts of Merkel cells and MCCs...
  33. Woodbury C, Koerber H. Central and peripheral anatomy of slowly adapting type I low-threshold mechanoreceptors innervating trunk skin of neonatal mice. J Comp Neurol. 2007;505:547-61 pubmed
    ..miniaturized touch domes, where they gave rise to expanded disc-like endings in close apposition to putative Merkel cells in basal epidermis...
  34. Doucet Y, Woo S, Ruiz M, Owens D. The touch dome defines an epidermal niche specialized for mechanosensory signaling. Cell Rep. 2013;3:1759-65 pubmed publisher
    In mammalian skin, Merkel cells are mechanoreceptor cells that are required for the perception of gentle touch...
  35. Haeberle H, Bryan L, Vadakkan T, Dickinson M, Lumpkin E. Swelling-activated Ca2+ channels trigger Ca2+ signals in Merkel cells. PLoS ONE. 2008;3:e1750 pubmed publisher
    Merkel cell-neurite complexes are highly sensitive touch receptors comprising epidermal Merkel cells and sensory afferents...
  36. Nakafusa J, Narisawa Y, Shinogi T, Taira K, Tanaka T, Inoue T, et al. Changes in the number of Merkel cells with the hair cycle in hair discs on rat back skin. Br J Dermatol. 2006;155:883-9 pubmed
    Hair discs are known to contain a large number of Merkel cells and are ideal for investigating Merkel cell biology. Hair follicles, which are important elements of hair discs, undergo unique cyclical morphological and biological changes...
  37. Tachibana T, Endoh M, Kumakami R, Nawa T. Immunohistochemical expressions of mGluR5, P2Y2 receptor, PLC-beta1, and IP3R-I and -II in Merkel cells in rat sinus hair follicles. Histochem Cell Biol. 2003;120:13-21 pubmed
    We previously found that Merkel cells (MCs) of the rat and monkey show a strong immunoreaction of the alpha-subunit of Gq protein...
  38. Liedtke W, Choe Y, Martí Renom M, Bell A, Denis C, Sali A, et al. Vanilloid receptor-related osmotically activated channel (VR-OAC), a candidate vertebrate osmoreceptor. Cell. 2000;103:525-35 pubmed
    ..The channel also occurs in other neurosensory cells, including inner-ear hair cells, sensory neurons, and Merkel cells.
  39. Kantola K, Sadeghi M, Lahtinen A, Koskenvuo M, Aaltonen L, Möttönen M, et al. Merkel cell polyomavirus DNA in tumor-free tonsillar tissues and upper respiratory tract samples: implications for respiratory transmission and latency. J Clin Virol. 2009;45:292-5 pubmed publisher
    ..Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV) was discovered recently. It is considered a potential causative agent of Merkel cell carcinoma, a life-threatening skin cancer...
  40. Sidhu G, Chandra P, Cassai N. Merkel cells, normal and neoplastic: an update. Ultrastruct Pathol. 2005;29:287-94 pubmed
    b>Merkel cells (MC) occur in the basal epidermal layer, hair follicles, and oral mucosa, as complexes with sensory axons. The axons transduce slowly adapting type I mechanoreception, and MC modulate their sensitivity...
  41. Maksimovic S, Baba Y, Lumpkin E. Neurotransmitters and synaptic components in the Merkel cell-neurite complex, a gentle-touch receptor. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2013;1279:13-21 pubmed publisher
    b>Merkel cells are an enigmatic group of rare cells found in the skin of vertebrates...
  42. Uchigasaki S, Suzuki H, Inoue K. Merkel cells in the vellus hair follicles of human facial skin: a study using confocal laser microscopy. J Dermatol. 2004;31:218-22 pubmed
    ..In this study, we investigated Merkel cells in the vellus hair follicles of facial region to characterize these cells in human subjects...
  43. Woo S, Stumpfova M, Jensen U, Lumpkin E, Owens D. Identification of epidermal progenitors for the Merkel cell lineage. Development. 2010;137:3965-71 pubmed publisher
    ..proliferative layer of murine skin epithelium; however, the location of the stem or progenitor population for Merkel cells remains unknown...
  44. Grim M, Halata Z. Developmental origin of avian Merkel cells. Anat Embryol (Berl). 2000;202:401-10 pubmed
    We have investigated the developmental origin and ultrastructure of avian Merkel cells by electron microscopy and chick/quail transplantation experiments...
  45. Tachibana T, Fujiwara N, Nawa T. Postnatal differentiation of Merkel cells in the rat palatine mucosa, with special reference to the timing of peripheral nerve development and the potency of cell mitosis. Anat Embryol (Berl). 2000;202:359-67 pubmed
    The origin and mechanism of the differentiation and proliferation of Merkel cells are enigmatic. A preliminary study in our laboratory showed that Merkel cells in the rat palatine mucosa emerge after birth...
  46. Wright M, Logan G, Bolock A, Kubicki A, Hemphill J, Sanders T, et al. Merkel cells are long-lived cells whose production is stimulated by skin injury. Dev Biol. 2017;422:4-13 pubmed publisher
    Mechanosensitive Merkel cells are thought to have finite lifespans, but controversy surrounds the frequency of their replacement and which precursor cells maintain the population...
  47. Collongues N, Samama B, Schmidt Mutter C, Chamard Witkowski L, Debouverie M, Chanson J, et al. Quantitative and qualitative normative dataset for intraepidermal nerve fibers using skin biopsy. PLoS ONE. 2018;13:e0191614 pubmed publisher
    ..Ultrastructural analysis also showed that fiber endings in close apposition to Merkel cells should not be mistaken for small-fiber swellings...
  48. Park T, Comer C, Carol A, Lu Y, Hong H, Rice F. Somatosensory organization and behavior in naked mole-rats: II. Peripheral structures, innervation, and selective lack of neuropeptides associated with thermoregulation and pain. J Comp Neurol. 2003;465:104-20 pubmed
    ..The features of this mammalian model system provide unique opportunities to discriminate mechanisms related to tactile spatial orientation, vascular regulation, and nociception...
  49. Barrett A, Cort E, Patel P, Berkovitz B. An immunohistological study of cytokeratin 20 in human and mammalian oral epithelium. Arch Oral Biol. 2000;45:879-87 pubmed
    ..filament reportedly expressed only by benign and malignant gastrointestinal epithelium, urothelium and Merkel cells. The main aims here were to map its expression in normal oral mucosa of humans and other mammals, and to ..
  50. Delay R, Kinnamon S, Roper S. Serotonin modulates voltage-dependent calcium current in Necturus taste cells. J Neurophysiol. 1997;77:2515-24 pubmed
  51. Sauvage V, Foulongne V, Cheval J, Ar Gouilh M, Pariente K, Dereure O, et al. Human polyomavirus related to African green monkey lymphotropic polyomavirus. Emerg Infect Dis. 2011;17:1364-70 pubmed publisher
    ..These results provide information on the viral ecology of human skin and raise new questions regarding the pathology of virus-associated skin disorders...
  52. Seo G, Chen C, Sullivan C. Merkel cell polyomavirus encodes a microRNA with the ability to autoregulate viral gene expression. Virology. 2009;383:183-7 pubmed publisher
    ..Interestingly, different viral isolates have sequence polymorphisms in the pre-miRNA region that result in amino acids substitutions but fully preserve the processing and activity of the miRNAs. ..
  53. Walsh C, Bautista D, Lumpkin E. Mammalian touch catches up. Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2015;34:133-9 pubmed publisher
    ..Such markers have also revealed key roles of non-neuronal cell types, such as Merkel cells and keratinocytes, in touch reception...